International platform for Palestine’s poet: ‘We teach life, Sir’

Rafeef Ziadah, accelerated to fame by way of Internet performance footage that went viral
Rafeef Ziadah, accelerated to fame by way of Internet performance footage that went viral

TODAY my body was a TV’d massacre/ made to fit into soundbites and word limits…..

“No soundbite will fix this/ no soundbite will fix this/ We teach life, Sir/ We Palestinians teach life, Sir/ no soundbite will fix this”.

Rafeef Ziadah. A name you may not have heard but can look  up on Youtube now that this ‘Arab woman of colour/ We come in all shades of anger’, is coming to a platform near you.

Fear not a tuneless rant on Palestine’s reality, shells burning in those State-less lands that vanish by the decade. Rather, listen to and for the lilt and musicality of this activist’s acute lyrics. (

It’s a blast in one direction, hypnotic incantation.

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If not alienated by this introduction, book for Belltable on Saturday May 21 at 8pm with Ziadah‘s travelling show, ‘We Teach Life’. She will be joined on stage by Phil Monsour, Australian musician and producer with whom she has “worked hard on this album with amazing musicians”.

Production was made possible through crowd-funding after amateur footage of her poetic mission threw the Internet in frenzy (she waives the manipulative demand of professional producers).

“The show is called after a performance of ‘We Teach Life, Sir’ was uploaded online and went viral, and there are 12 new other works on the album”. She was performing in a London arts centre in 2011 when this plea to insensitive, limiting news-squads to report beyond the metric of statistic was filmed unknown to her.

“I think for me because I am Palestinian, I understand the news and that media see what is happening in different terms. When people talk about refugees it is about numbers as opposed to the human being. [We Teach Life, Sir] is a mirror held up to those people.. if so, I hope that’s what I captured”.

“I  grew up speaking Arabic. English I learnt much later in life, mostly through watching terrible television! We lost quite a lot of family, living in Lebanon during the war. We kept travelling around the country. I had political parents”.

Being an undocumented person impacted hugely on Ziadah, “going through borders, going through airports. Words like ‘naturalised’, ‘illegal’ – how can a human being be illegal?”

Rafeef Ziadah grew up a 3rd generation undocumented refugee within a family deported from Lebanon. Her grandparents were killed in the war.

Educated in Canada, she works on a post-doctoral thesis with the University of London on logistics, the intersection of militarism and building of infrastructure in the Middle East.

The pen having more might, none of us have to “have a rock in one hand, a Palestinian flag in the other” to attend to her impassioned, luminous, sinister experience of war and working for justice for her people.

Belltable, Saturday May 21 at 8pm. Book at